KANSAS CITY, MO. — Whenever Phillip Thayer steps out onto his deck, his view is of old car parts and abandoned furniture, the result of continued illegal dumping at the Robandee Shopping Center.
Sometimes Thayer catches people in the act like he did recently.
“Plain as day, they can see me there, you know, and they just pulled up and started unloading stuff, and they had a whole truckload of things,” he said. “When I started videoing, they kind of went around behind the truck.”
He says the gate leading to the back of the shopping center can only do so much, since its usually left unlocked.
Neighbors believe the trash at the vacant space is a public safety hazard.
“It could be a fire,” Brandon Wright, the co-chair of Hickman Mills United Neighborhoods, said. “I mean, you’ve got people who have broken into buildings in this area, and even race four-wheelers in some of the buildings.”
Wright adds over the years, his neighborhood association has filed several 311 complaints and have reached out to council members Rayna Parks-Shaw and Lee Barnes.
KSHB 41 News did the same, only Parks-Shaw responded.
In an e-mailed statement she wrote:
Hello Andres, Thank you for your email. I understand the frustration of the neighborhood. There has been action taken with the property owner and he is working to clean up the illegal dumping as it occurs. Unfortunately, individuals continue to illegally dump on the property. I’ve worked with the community and the owner to cleanup illegal dumping at the site. We have also implemented strategies to stop the street racing that was occurring. I will defer to the Director of Neighborhoods on their course of action moving forward. He is copied on this email. As a policy maker, I have introduced and supported legislation to double the bulky item pick up appointments and increase the number of neighborhood dumpsters with the intent to reduce the amount of illegal dumping in the community. Thank you again for the opportunity to respond.
Through text messages, the property owner of the Robandee Shopping Center said he is working to clean up the mess and has been trying to get a dumpster out to the site.
But the company he works with is behind schedule.
“They have been compliant, especially in the last six to eight months,” John Baccala, a spokesperson for KCMO neighborhoods department said. “The problem we have from the city standpoint, is there’s no consistency in monitoring the property or maintaining the property.”
Some neighbors would like to see the city install illegal dumping cameras around the shopping center.
But in turn, the city says they have a limited number of cameras and its private property.
“We would welcome it if the shopping center owner wanted to put them on the property, and then at that point, turn over whatever video they get to our illegal dumping investigators. That would certainly help,” Baccala said.
In the meantime, neighbors hope the vacant space is torn down or re-purposed into a community center
“You have to get the blight taken care of and once we take care of this blight, the businesses will start to come back, the economy will start coming back in South Kansas City,” Wright said.